Patron of the Poor and Those Who Have Suffered a Loss
St. Anthony, called “St. Anthony of Padua” on account of his long residence in that city, was a native of Lisbon in Portugal, where he was born in 1195, receiving the name of Ferdinand at his Baptism. His parents placed him at an early age in the community of the Canons of the Cathedral of Lisbon, by whom he was educated. At fifteen he entered the Order of Regular Canons of St. Augustine near Lisbon. After two years he was sent to the convent of the Holy Cross of the same Order at Coimbra.
He had lived in this house eight years, intent on his studies, when the relics of five Franciscan Martyrs were brought from Morocco to Portugal. This event inspired him to follow in the footsteps of these heroes of the faith. His brethren offered extreme opposition, but he finally obtained the consent of the prior and joined the Franciscan order, taking the name “Anthony”.
Later, Anthony obtained leave to go to Africa to preach to the Moors, but a severe illness obliged him to return to Spain. However, the vessel was driven to Sicily by contrary winds, and the desire to see St. Francis took him to Assisi, where a general chapter of the Order was in progress. At first he was entirely ignored in the Order, and he purposely kept himself in obscurity; but providence soon revealed to the Franciscans what a treasure they had acquired, and St. Anthony was made professor of theology, which subject he later taught successively at Bologna, Toulouse, Montpellier, and Padua.
Anthony gave up teaching to devote himself to preaching, for he was an accomplished orator, being at the same time filled with zeal for souls. In this work he traveled through France, Spain, and Italy. He was invested with several important dignities in his Order and labored hard to preserve monastic discipline, boldly opposing the famous General Elias, who sought to introduce relaxations. He died June 13, 1231, and was canonized the following year by Pope Gregory IX.
Though he was denied the grace of Martyr’s death, St. Anthony was a Martyr of the Word, a Martyr of the road, a Martyr of the crowds. So numerous were those who flocked to hear him that often forced to preach in the open air.
Even during his lifetime, the Saint was regarded as a legendary hero and striking miracles were related about him: his sermon to the fish at Rimini, the mule that knelt before the Blessed Sacrament, the Psalter that was stolen and returned (on account of which he has become the Patron of those who have lost something), and the story of how his host saw him holding the Child Jesus in his arms when he looked through his window.
PRAYER: Almighty ever-living God, You gave Your people the extraordinary preacher St. Anthony and made him an intercessor in difficulties. By his aid grand that we may live a truly Christian life and experience Your help in all adversities. Amen.